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88.1% of NYC coronavirus patients put on ventilators died
If a patient requires a ventilator, a new study finds they have a low chance of survival.
The scarcity of ventilators for COVID-19 patients has been one of the frightening problems facing medical professionals during the pandemic. The possibility of having to choose who gets a ventilator and who doesn't has been one of the things keeping them, and us, up at night.
Even so, the scarce data on the device's success rate at resolving COVID-19 infections has been concerning. Now a preliminary study of 5,700 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area finds that 88.1% of patients who go on ventilators don't survive.
There are a few caveats that are important to keep in mind:
- This is preliminary data, and there are many COVID-19 patients currently on ventilators who may yet survive and eventually lower the study's mortality rate.
- It's impossible to know if the study's conclusion reflects the inherent limitations of ventilator treatment for COVID-19, or if it indicates that the medical facilities tracked were so overwhelmed that the quality of care was inescapably compromised.
- This study reflects the facilities of one health network in one area, and we'll know more as other domestic and international locations' statistics become available.
The study was published April 22, 2020 in JAMA.
The data collected for the study
Image source: Vadym Stock/Shutterstock
The study looked at outcomes at hospitals in Northwell Health, the largest academic health system in New York. The system serves roughly 11 million people in Long Island, Westchester, and New York City.
12 acute-care facilities supplied data on 5,700 patients, all of whom had been hospitalized with "confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection by positive result on polymerase chain reaction testing of a nasopharyngeal sample."
The period covered in the study ran from March 1, 2020 through April 4, 2020 and includes all patients who had exited hospital care at that point, either by leaving the facilities or by dying there. As noted above, the study doesn't include patients remaining in hospital at the close of April 4.
The data collected includes:
- demographic information (race was self-reported)
- triage (initial diagnostic) vitals
- home medications
- initial and subsequent lab tests, electrocardiogram measurements
- in-patient medications
- treatments, including ventilation and kidney replacement
What the data showed
Image source: Angela Weiss /Getty
- The median age of admitted patients was 63.
- 60.3% of those admitted identified as male and 39.7% as female.
- The most common comorbidities were hypertension (56.6%), obesity (41.7%), and diabetes (33.8%).
- Of those admitted, 21% died.
- More patients in the 18-to-65 age group compared with the older-than-65 years age group were treated in the ICU or received ventilation.
- 14.2% of patents admitted were treated in intensive care.
- 12.2% received invasive mechanical ventilation.
- 81% received kidney replacement therapy.
- The overall mortality rate for patients on ventilators was 88.1%.
- In the 18-to-65 age group, the mortality rate was 76.4%.
- In the older-than-65 age group, the mortality rate was 97.2%.
- No ventilator patients younger than 18 died.
The sad and disturbing truth, from this study and others, is that being put on a ventilator as treatment for COVID-19 constitutes a last-ditch attempt at lifesaving, and not a promising one. We understand that medical care has its limitations, and COVID-19 serves as a heartbreaking reminder of that reality.
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The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Humanity knows surprisingly little about the ocean depths. An often-repeated bit of evidence for this is the fact that humanity has done a better job mapping the surface of Mars than the bottom of the sea. The creatures we find lurking in the watery abyss often surprise even the most dedicated researchers with their unique features and bizarre behavior.
A recent expedition off the coast of Java discovered a new isopod species remarkable for its size and resemblance to Darth Vader.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.
According to LiveScience, the Bathynomus genus is sometimes referred to as "Darth Vader of the Seas" because the crustaceans are shaped like the character's menacing helmet. Deemed Bathynomus raksasa ("raksasa" meaning "giant" in Indonesian), this cockroach-like creature can grow to over 30 cm (12 inches). It is one of several known species of giant ocean-going isopod. Like the other members of its order, it has compound eyes, seven body segments, two pairs of antennae, and four sets of jaws.
The incredible size of this species is likely a result of deep-sea gigantism. This is the tendency for creatures that inhabit deeper parts of the ocean to be much larger than closely related species that live in shallower waters. B. raksasa appears to make its home between 950 and 1,260 meters (3,117 and 4,134 ft) below sea level.
Perhaps fittingly for a creature so creepy looking, that is the lower sections of what is commonly called The Twilight Zone, named for the lack of light available at such depths.
It isn't the only giant isopod, far from it. Other species of ocean-going isopod can get up to 50 cm long (20 inches) and also look like they came out of a nightmare. These are the unusual ones, though. Most of the time, isopods stay at much more reasonable sizes.
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During an expedition, there are some animals which you find unexpectedly, while there are others that you hope to find. One of the animal that we hoped to find was a deep sea cockroach affectionately known as Darth Vader Isopod. The staff on our expedition team could not contain their excitement when they finally saw one, holding it triumphantly in the air! #SJADES2018
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What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?
The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.
Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:
"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region."
The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its head. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and Great Old Ones.
Every star we can see, including our sun, was born in one of these violent clouds.
This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.
An international team of astronomers has conducted the biggest survey of stellar nurseries to date, charting more than 100,000 star-birthing regions across our corner of the universe.
Stellar nurseries: Outer space is filled with clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. In some of these nebulae, gravity will pull the dust and gas into clumps that eventually get so big, they collapse on themselves — and a star is born.
These star-birthing nebulae are known as stellar nurseries.
The challenge: Stars are a key part of the universe — they lead to the formation of planets and produce the elements needed to create life as we know it. A better understanding of stars, then, means a better understanding of the universe — but there's still a lot we don't know about star formation.
This is partly because it's hard to see what's going on in stellar nurseries — the clouds of dust obscure optical telescopes' view — and also because there are just so many of them that it's hard to know what the average nursery is like.
The survey: The astronomers conducted their survey of stellar nurseries using the massive ALMA telescope array in Chile. Because ALMA is a radio telescope, it captures the radio waves emanating from celestial objects, rather than the light.
"The new thing ... is that we can use ALMA to take pictures of many galaxies, and these pictures are as sharp and detailed as those taken by optical telescopes," Jiayi Sun, an Ohio State University (OSU) researcher, said in a press release.
"This just hasn't been possible before."
Over the course of the five-year survey, the group was able to chart more than 100,000 stellar nurseries across more than 90 nearby galaxies, expanding the amount of available data on the celestial objects tenfold, according to OSU researcher Adam Leroy.
New insights: The survey is already yielding new insights into stellar nurseries, including the fact that they appear to be more diverse than previously thought.
"For a long time, conventional wisdom among astronomers was that all stellar nurseries looked more or less the same," Sun said. "But with this survey we can see that this is really not the case."
"While there are some similarities, the nature and appearance of these nurseries change within and among galaxies," he continued, "just like cities or trees may vary in important ways as you go from place to place across the world."
Astronomers have also learned from the survey that stellar nurseries aren't particularly efficient at producing stars and tend to live for only 10 to 30 million years, which isn't very long on a universal scale.
Looking ahead: Data from the survey is now publicly available, so expect to see other researchers using it to make their own observations about stellar nurseries in the future.
"We have an incredible dataset here that will continue to be useful," Leroy said. "This is really a new view of galaxies and we expect to be learning from it for years to come."
Tiny specks of space debris can move faster than bullets and cause way more damage. Cleaning it up is imperative.
- NASA estimates that more than 500,000 pieces of space trash larger than a marble are currently in orbit. Estimates exceed 128 million pieces when factoring in smaller pieces from collisions. At 17,500 MPH, even a paint chip can cause serious damage.
- To prevent this untrackable space debris from taking out satellites and putting astronauts in danger, scientists have been working on ways to retrieve large objects before they collide and create more problems.
- The team at Clearspace, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is on a mission to capture one such object using an autonomous spacecraft with claw-like arms. It's an expensive and very tricky mission, but one that could have a major impact on the future of space exploration.
This is the first episode of Just Might Work, an original series by Freethink, focused on surprising solutions to our biggest problems.
Catch more Just Might Work episodes on their channel: https://www.freethink.com/shows/just-might-work